Muqtada al-Sadr, the Sadrist movement’s leader, warned on Friday against repeating what he called a “ceremony that violates norms,” referring to the Iraq International Festival, which was held in Baghdad’s celebration square and was attended by Iraqi and Arab cultural and artistic figures.
In a statement, Al-Sadr added: “We warn Islamic countries against increasing openness and against the abhorrent liberalization that only leads to normalization and the spread of homosexuality, as happened in the ceremony that violated Arab and Islamic societal norms in our beloved Iraq and under the state (Bani Abbas).”
“I am certain that the Iraqi people are a nation of purity, and they want to be purified, rejecting corruption and anomalies,” he continued. If such parties are held again, I am confident that the people would unite in their opposition to excessive liberalization and the establishment of a gay society.”
Arif Al-Saadi, the Prime Minister’s Advisor for Cultural Affairs, provided a clarification yesterday, Thursday, about the Iraq International Festival, which created controversy.
In a statement obtained by Shafaq News Agency, Al-Saadi stated that “the artist Shatha Hassoun submitted a request in which she intends to hold a festival honoring Iraqi and Arab artists, and that the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Culture supported the idea (a festival honoring Iraqi and Arab artists).”
He went on to say, “The government has absolutely nothing to do with the artistic organization, nor with the invitations of the honorees, even though the festival included important figures and names that raised its value, such as Habib Ghuloum, Jamal Suleiman, Walid Tawfiq, Jawad Al-Shakarji, Awatif Naeem, Abdel Sattar Al-Basri, Alaa Hussein, Iyad Radi, Ali Fadel, and other names.” They were respected, they were recognized in a dignified and joyous manner, and they talked with great beauty about Baghdad and its recovery via art, poetry, and peace.”
Al-Saadi went on to say that “only these respected artists and their likes rose to the honoring platform, as well as the high-quality jury, including the head of the Artists Syndicate, Jabbar Joudi, Dr. Shatha Salem, and others.”
The Sudanese advisor agreed that the event had some flaws, such as the presence of blockers and funstats, which he deemed “inappropriate.”
Al-Saadi denied that the government was to blame for the chaos, stating, “Is it our turn to search the women at the party gate?” Or to publish clothes and fashion instructions? We would be offended more and more if we did such a thing, and if we had blocked the celebration in the first place, it would have been declared that Baghdad had become Kandahar.”
Regarding the festival date, he explained that it was last September 29, and invitations were sent based on this date, but the disaster in Al-Hamdaniya and the mourning declared by Iraq prompted the festival administration to postpone the ceremony to 10/3, which happened to be the same time. This indicates that the event did not honor National Day, but rather that it was postponed, nothing more and nothing less.”
Regarding the drop campaign, Al-Saadi stated, “We cannot be blackmailed with money in order to buy silence, and the talk includes one of the artists residing in Egypt,” adding, “It is very shameful for those who participated.”